The light in the doctor’s office is familiar, as are the colors of the walls and cupboards, the smooth surface of the examination table, the charts on the wall of the nervous and muscular systems. Even the color of the doctors hair is familiar. It seems she is always blonde. I can’t count the number of doctors anymore, can’t tally the puzzled expressions, the trace lines of doubt stitched around the corners of their eyes and knotted right between the brow. Today she is wearing a cotton candy pink sweater set that matches her glasses, which are also pink, and strung from a glass-beaded chain around her neck. Her slacks do not wrinkle. She is kind, but prim and cool, detached from any emotion I am feeling. She reaches a hand out and pats my knee, which is exposed through a hole in my jeans that appears vulgar in her presence.
“You’re probably just going to have to live with this for the rest of your life, but I can help you manage your pain.” I’m wading through a deep stream and my legs are catching on reeds in the brackish water. I try to speak but I feel as if I’ve swallowed cotton balls. I begin to cry. She stiffens and says nothing while I weep.
“You know, you really need to be getting these feelings out with a therapist, not with me,” she says after a moment. Her voice jumps as she speaks, and her eyes narrow a bit. I sense fear. I am speechless, drowning in the cotton balls that are coming up from my insides. I feel the shame coiling around me at the same time, so I am expanding and contracting all at once, and remain paralyzed in distress while she continues speaking.
“I think you have to stop thinking about it so much,” she says, her voice grave. “Otherwise you’re just a big painful vagina walking around New York City.”
“But that’s exactly what I am,” I stammer. She stares back at me blankly as I imagine my vulva lurching down Fifth Avenue like King Kong – misunderstood and emotionally scarred, careening past screaming tourists and hanging, heartbroken, off the Empire State Building. The room moves in and out of focus while this image begins to take shape. I am just a big painful vagina walking around New York City, and that’s it for me.
Stop thinking about it so much, the doctors words taunt as my jeans rub and chafe and the pain corkscrews between my legs. Stop thinking about it so much, she jeers, once I’m perched uncomfortably on the edge of the subway bench. Stop thinking about it so much, she chirps, as I trudge wearily up the stairs of my 5th floor walkup, the throbbing between my legs pulsing in time with my new mantra.